"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
Mackinac Island is located in the Straits of Mackinac, between Lakes Michigan and Huron. The size is small, only 3.8 square miles. Don’t let the size fool you, it played an important part in the War of 1812 and Americans lost their lives defending it. In present times it is a great vacation spot that remembers its past. The name in Ojibwe means “Big Turtle”. About 500 residents live here year-round, almost everyone you see during the busy summer season is a visitor from somewhere else. Many workers here at the many businesses are also just there for the summer.
It was not my first time here, it was Al’s though. My family took a trip here with my grandparents in 1971. Since we could not all go, I recreated the picture later. It was great to be back 45 years later!
Two things Mackinac are best known for are fudge and it’s abundant lilacs. Island visitors are in fact nicknamed “fudgies” by the locals. The island has a 10 day Lilac Festival every June to celebrate the abundant flower. We were lucky to see some left even in late June.
No motor vehicles are allowed here(except a few emergency). Horse-drawn wagons, bicycle and walking are how you get around here. Be prepared for many hills, some steep. The flattest route is around the perimeter of the island. If you have your own bicycle, bring it. It will save you money if it will be your prime mode of transportation. No worries if you don’t have a bike, there is a great selection at Mackinac Cycle across from the Arnold ferry dock.
If your time on the island is short or you just want to take it slow, take the Mackinac Island Carriage Tour. It takes almost 2 hours, and is narrated. The kiosk is across the street from here. Here is the route. The stops are short, you get about 7 minutes at Arch Rock so have your camera ready!
You can even ride a Taxi, but you have to arrange the ride in advance here through the dispatch. You can’t “hail” a taxi like you can on the mainland. Cash only.
Here I am in Marquette Park, then and now. It was fun! Never thought I would get this chance to re-create this silly picture.
Let’s explore Marquette Park, as long as we are here. Pick up island info at the visitors center across the street.
In the park there is a statue of Father Jacques Marquette. On it are 3 plaques. The statue was erected in 1909. Before this was a park, it was a large vegetable garden. See about most historical island features here.
Behind and above the park is Fort Mackinac, we hope to visit it next time.
A beautiful day to soak up the sun amidst the lilacs!
Be a part of the action! Take a cruise on Sail Mackinac! If you have sailing knowledge, they encourage you to assist the crew if you desire to.
Also in the park is a Missionary Bark Chapel replica, an early small church on the island. You can go inside and see this diorama.
From here you can see the McGulpin House, one the oldest house on the island, built around 1780. The house is on the corner of Market and Fort Street.
The harbor looks especially beautiful at night, view is from Arnold ferry boat dock.
Above Marquette Park is the East Bluff, with a great view of the harbor below. We went up there early Wednesday morning. The early ferries were bring supplies to the island before the first passengers.
You could also find a couple historical markers up here on the other end of the road by the bluff. The first one is for Lewis Cass who distinguished himself with great service to this country. He also was Governor of Michigan Territory. Cassville, Wisconsin was named after him.
Also up here is Anne’s Tablet, a local author who loved the island. The view is wonderful, especially in the morning when the island is waking up.
Beautiful Main Street, where many hotels and great shopping (and fudge) can be found.
Speaking of fudge, let’s stop by May’s Candy Shop and see how the experts make it. They were the only shop open during the sugar-rationing days of WWII that made fudge. They made only one batch a day and sold only one pound per customer. They even have a trademarked quote, “Famous Mackinac Fudge”® Let’s watch them make a half-batch of peanut butter fudge!
There are MANY places to stay overnight on Mackinac Island, not just the Grand Hotel (staying there would be lots of fun too! 🙂
Many people say they can’t afford to spend the night on Mackinac Island, but that may be they are not keeping alert for price specials that happen often. The hotel Facebook pages are often where specials are posted. We chose to spend our night at the Murray Hotel, right across from the Arnold Ferry docks on Main Street. Their service is impeccable and hotel beautiful and in the heart of downtown. We were in room 318, a quiet interior room we would choose again. Check-in is officially at 3, but this room was available at 1:15 when we arrived! A porter was at our door with our luggage when we got there. We highly recommend the Murray! We also enjoyed their pizza buffet for dinner.
Next to the Arnold dock is the Chippewa Hotel and Pink Pony Bar and Grill. It’s lights reflected on the water were real pretty that night.
Their sister hotel is the Lilac Tree Suites and Spa. A beautiful hotel by day, the purple lights outside really set it off at night.
On the ground floor is the Little Luxuries gift shop. I found the perfect souvenier, this cute necklace created at Loveonthespot.com it captured my love for Mackinac Island so perfectly!
The island has many interesting rock formations, we saw the best known ones. Arch Rock is a favorite! You can see another lookout above right see the lake.
On the same side of the island is Dwightwood Springs. Don’t drink the water.
Sugar Loaf Rock has a commanding presence above the landscape.
Devil’s Kitchen is off the perimeter road on the island (I-85).
Over 80% of Mackinac Island is a State Park , boundaries are clearly marked by signs. Neighboring Round Island Lighthouse lights the way for freighters and other boats to pass safely in the Straits.
Once day a year, tours are given of the light house. A great view of the lighthouse is at Windmere Point, owned by the Windmere Hotel.
The red object on the waterfront is a retired buoy from the Race to Mackinac from Chicago. This year is the 108th year of the race, beginning on July 23. See details here about the race, sponsored by the Chicago Yacht Club. It is the longest freshwater sailboat race in the country.
We went to the waterfront at sunset to see the lighthouse, and a rainbow!
And the whole scene, with Round Island in the middle of both light stations.
The Mackinac Bridge gleamed like gold, what a beautiful evening that was.
To learn more about the history on Mackinac Island, the Public Library is a great place to visit.
We did some more important historic sites on the island. On Codette Ave. on the way to the Grand Hotel is the beautiful Little Stone Church.
British Landing is where the British came ashore in 1812 to take possession of the island. A cannon is there facing the water and a historical marker. At this juncture is also a sign telling how far other landmarks are.
You can grab a bite to eat at the Cannonball while you are here.
From here we took a right to see the Battlefield, airport and cemeteries.
A historic golf course is up the road from here.
We also went by the cemeteries, airport and aforementioned Sugar Loaf Rock on this route.
All this exploring works up an appetite! We enjoyed dinner at our hotel that first night. The next morning we had breakfast at the Pancake House, delicious pancakes and all the trimmings too!
Lunch was at the Grand Hotel, quite an amazing meal with a great view!
With only about 27 hours available, we couldn’t see everything, but we did our best! We hope to come back in 2017 to get to what we missed and see even more. Thanks for helping us make some great memories! our parting shot was people talking and laughing at the Pink Pony. It was time to board the Ottawa back to Mackinaw City at 5:00 to explore on Thursday. It was difficult to leave, we plan to come back.
For a funny and informative video of Mackinac Island, enjoy this episode of Matt’s Rad Show on YouTube. It helped me in my research and made me laugh too.
We arranged for a tour of this historic hotel that goes back to 1871, where many politicians and legislators stayed while in town for Government business. Pictures of the hotel’s early history are on the wall. It was called the Park Hotel then, this is its original look in about 1875.
That may still be going to this day, but it is also it has also become a fun destination for visitors in the heart of Madison. The frame of the picture above is made of a column just inside the garage, as is the welcome sign. We did feel welcome when we came in and our guide was clearly enthusiastic about sharing the many amenities this hotel has to offer. Service begins when you arrive with valet parking for your vehicle.
The lobby is beautiful and welcoming. Even a sitting area just outside the on-site restaurant Jeromes Restaurant. We came back for dinner later.
We then headed to the 2nd floor and saw the indoor pool and through the large windows a fitness room.
Next were the two large rooms meant to accommodate large larger parties. The Hall of Wisconsin Grand Ballroom accomodates 360 for dinner or 600 for a cocktail reception.
And the room with a view, the landmark Top of the Park room can accommodates 125 people for a seated meal and 250 for a cocktail reception.
Great views of the Square and Capitol, also towards the Courthouse.
The view behind us from the lower on South Hamilton St. You can see the Tornado Steakhouse below.
We were also shown some of the rooms, including the one with the classic Capitol view.
This concludes the tour, but we returned in the evening for their Friday Fish Fry at Jerome’s Restaurant.
Thanks very much David for the great tour and Jerome’s for a wonderful dinner. You get a thumbs up from us.
The Edgewater is a Madison favorite since it opened in 1948, and has become one of our favorite places too.
Our last visit at the Edgewater before the remodel was 9-17-12 for a meal. By November, it closed for two years to be mostly rebuilt from the ground up (except the Langdon building on the left). One last look of the old Edgewater before reconstruction, this picture is from 2010. We spent two nights there in December 2011 and really enjoyed ourselves.
Now we are in 2015, our first visit back, a similar perspective. The central building was demolished and on new land on the right, the new Wisconsin building was constructed. It’s like a whole new place now. It re-opened in October 2014.
In this middle area below (The Plaza) is now an ice skating rink and a cafè called The Icehouse for hungry skaters.
For those people without a boat, winter is a good time to see the other side of the Edgewater facing the water. I went and did just that in February. We had the pleasure of enjoying lunch there with our priest on January 19 during Madison’s Restaurant Week. The main dining room is now called The Statehouse, formerly The Admiralty. The lower tall windows in the Wisconsin Building on the left are the dining room windows with a great view of Lake Mendota.
Lunch was delicious! Here was the menu, we each had a different entreè.
We went back on Feb 25 for our tour. It needs to be arranged in advance by calling 800-922-5512 and not on weekends. It lasted one hour, our guide Julie was wonderful!
One feature they carried over from the old Edgewater is the “Wall of Fame”, highlighting celebrities who have stayed there. It used to be a couple of walls in the lounge just outside of the Admiralty. Now, it is a long curving hallway leading to the Statehouse Restaurant. There are even some video screens in the hall.
Wall of Fame 2011
Hall of Fame 2015
Up ahead on our left is the spiral staircase leading down to the concierge where we met our guide.
Our first stop was in the Wisconsin building where we were. We visited the Sky Bar, offering a great view of the lake. Also the rink and Langdon building below.
We next saw the aforementioned Statehouse restaurant, highly recommended! The new state-of-the-art open kitchen allows guests to see their meal being prepared, as well as being able to interact with the kitchen staff. They even have an open-flame oven. Since I am a professional cook, I really like their new kitchen.
Ajacent to the Stateroom is the Lounge with a full bar. It also has a semi-private room with pictures of the celebrities that have visited.
If you are in a hurry and can’t take in a full breakfast at the Statehouse, the Edgewater Café offers popular coffee drinks and sweet pastries.
The Edgewater also has a Fitness Center with machines to work every muscle and even a yoga room.
When you are done exercising, there is a sauna and pool. Check schedule for exercise classes here. The public is welcome to join in the fun, you don’t have to be a guest.
Upstairs a floor from here is a salon and spa, a great place to be pampered! Also a couples massage room and a private one as well.
Now for the large spaces within the hotel. The Mendota Ballroom was occupied at the time of our visit, so Julie took us to the Grand Ballroom. It can be divided into three sections if a party only needs part of the room. The back section has the veranda with outdoor seating.
We finished our tour with a greater appreciation of this Madison institution and plan on coming back soon. In the summer, The Boathouse Restaurant will open and we can enjoy a meal.
July 24, 2015
We are back, now its summer and also our 16th Wedding Anniversary. Our sister-in-law and my high school friend joined us as well for our first meal at the Boathouse. Remember the ice rink in the winter? Now there was a big tent where a wedding rehearsal was taking place, wedding probably on Saturday.
Let’s go eat! It’s open from 11 AM to 11 PM. The menu is on a plank of wood, nice touch!
The windows here offer a great view of the pier and lake as much as the Stateroom does. There is also a patio outside to dine Al fresco.
There is also plenty of room for customers to pull up and tie up their boat at the large dock.
The high view from the Plaza, the Boathouse on the bottom left.
Our food arrived, tasted as good as it looked!
After dinner we headed downstairs to the pier to see the action there. Look, the Edgewater’s own boat The Cherokee is coming back to port! It doesn’t seem to be here anymore in 2016.
This historic 1924 Chris Craft has three different tours available to the public from now until the end of September. Here is more information on the Heritage Lake Tour. Also the other tours offered. You can take the Cherokee as a water taxi for only $5 to the Union as well.
Dusk was coming, so we headed back up the steps to the Plaza level to take in the mellow evening mood.
You can see the Memorial Union from here (with binoculars or camera with a good zoom). There was music and tables full of happy people enjoying the breezy warm evening.
A wonderful evening with people we care about at our favorite Madison Hotel, The Edgewater!
October 31, 2015
Photo by The Edgewater
Summer has turned into fall, and we are back for their Halloween Badger Tailgate party. It was held in the big tent also, which was good since it was raining at the time. The Ryan McGrath Band played a lot of great music too. Here is a good example of their performance.
There was great food too, We enjoyed Duck Jambalaya and Pork Spare Ribs. We picked up our food in The Icehouse near the tent. Al is sure enjoying the ribs! There was a beanbag game going on too.
We also went down to the dock to look at the lake. The big pier we saw is the summer was put away for the winter and it was quiet.
We have come nearly full circle, now it is the Holiday season and we came to enjoy their 2nd Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. We enjoyed some music beforehand and watched Santa light the trees with a large crowd filling the plaza. Afterwards we had another great meal at the Boathouse.
We are now back to January again with Madison’s only ball drop at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Al was there to cover the event for me. Watch the Edgewater official video below. As you can see, there is a lot of fun to be had at the Edgewater the whole year around!
The Edgewater has become a tradition for us to celebrate the seasons throughout the year and we love all the upgrades they have made. We encourage you to come too to create great memories for you and your family!